Former prime minister Gordon Brown is demanding the Ministry of Defence “owns up” and takes responsibility for radioactive contamination at a beach.
The MP will lead a Commons debate tonight, highlighting a letter which he says proves the ministry had already accepted blame.
The memo shows the MoD was willing to take action as early as 1990 for contamination at Dalgety Bay in Fife.
Mr Brown, MP for the area, said: “This letter shows that the ministry must now own up, clean up, pay up and hurry up.
“The MoD must undo the damage done by months of vacillation, half-truths and outright denials that sadden me and undermine the credibility of its position on radiation contamination across former MoD sites in the UK.
“In 1990, the ministry was prepared to accept their responsibility. It is arrogant beyond advice and dogmatic beyond belief for the MoD to refuse to accept responsibility now. This is a damning indictment of the Ministry of Defence.”
Contamination is thought to stem from residue of radium-coated instrument panels used on military aircraft which were incinerated and put in landfill in the bay area at the end of the Second World War.
The letter, exchanged between the MoD and Scottish Office minister Lord James Douglas Hamilton, states that about 800 aircraft, containing radium-coated equipment, were scrapped in the area.
“This information, together with the nature of the contaminated debris which has been found, leaves little doubt as to the origins of the contamination and it is likely that there is more material buried in the area inland from the beach,” the letter states.
It continues: “MoD appear to have experience dealing with similar problems and I am glad to report that they seem willing to help both with further monitoring and with any remedial action which may be necessary.”
Last week, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency concluded the MoD deposited a large amount of ash and clinker on the coast before the town of Dalgety Bay was developed. It said significant amounts of material remain buried on the coast and continue to erode and re-contaminate the area.
But the MoD said it has concerns over the “adequacy and validity” of Sepa’s approach to the report.
Mr Brown fears Sepa will have to declare Dalgety Bay a radiation-contaminated area, the first such site in the UK.
“It would be extraordinary that in a Britain that has nuclear storage sites, nuclear processing sites, nuclear weapons and nuclear waste, the beautiful beach at Dalgety Bay would stand out as the first and only radiation-contaminated site in the country,” he said.
“No one wants a radiation-contaminated beach on their doorstep and it is time for the MoD to accept they are the polluter of Dalgety Bay.”
Responding to Sepa’s findings last week, a spokesman said: “MoD will consider the report findings in detail and respond to Sepa in due course, but has concerns over the adequacy and validity of both Sepa’s risk assessment and its approach to the appropriate persons report. We will seek an early meeting with Sepa at senior official level to raise these concerns and discuss the way forward.
“MoD has demonstrated a serious commitment to voluntarily assisting Sepa, the Scottish Government and the Dalgety Bay Forum in dealing with the situation at Dalgety Bay.
“The department continues to work with Sepa to identify the likelihood and scale of the residual risks and the requirement for remedial action. MoD continues to fund, at its own cost, monitoring arrangements at Dalgety Bay in line with previous commitments.”